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SARS Receives Record Number Of Income Tax Returns

by Robert Lee,, London

30 January 2008

The South African Revenue Service (SARS) has received a record of more than 3 million income tax returns as part of the 2007 Filing Season.

SARS announced last week that more than 75% (2.1 million) of returns submitted have been processed through a number of stages, and of the processed returns, more than 1.5 million have been assessed and where applicable, refunds were issued. Refunds to the value of R2.3 billion (USD318 million) have been issued to 632,000 taxpayers.

About 880,000 returns are currently being processed, and SARS expects that these will be assessed and finalized before the end of March 2008.

SARS also announced that more than 400,000 returns were submitted via the electronic filing facility, more than 10 times the number of eFiling users recorded during the previous year of assessment, representing growing public confidence in the electronic system. In total, more than 1.1 million taxpayers have registered as eFiling users.

However, the filing season hasn't gone entirely smoothly for SARS, which said that "a small number" of taxpayers have, or will be, notified that they need to re-submit a new tax return or provide further information for their original return to be assessed.

Since the beginning of this month, SARS has sent back new, blank income tax returns to some 440,000 taxpayers whose manual returns could not be processed further. Around half of this number have been completed, returned to SARS and are being processed.

"Introducing the new assessment process and the new income tax return placed new requirements on SARS, taxpayers and tax practitioners," the department explained in a statement. "Understandably, with projects of this magnitude and complexity, there are challenges for taxpayers, tax practitioners and our own staff. SARS is confident that these changes have laid a good platform to further simplify and improve the annual filing process."

"SARS recognizes that it will take some time to reduce the margin of error in the process and we want to thank taxpayers and tax practitioners for their cooperation and patience," it concluded.

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